Nabire, Jubi – Executive Committee of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania urge care for the sea and support the indigenous people of West Papua.
The statement is written by the committee consisted of Australia, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, New Zealand, CEPAC – the rest of the Pacific through its press statement released by scoop.co.nz, Monday (August 14).
The Executive Committee of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania is currently meeting in Auckland, New Zealand. They come from a multitude of island nation States spread throughout the Pacific Ocean.
They said, Bishops of the Pacific, the place of the sea in the lives of the peoples they serve were a central focus of their meeting. “Our common ocean is teeming with life and goodness. For many of our peoples the sea is their treasured source of nutrition, sustenance and livelihood. In solidarity with them, Psalm 107 resonates in our hearts: “those that do business in the great waters, they behold the world of the Lord and his wonders in the deep.”
The bishops and archbishops aware of the impact of climate change on island nations and have been visiting communities and recording the destruction of shorelines affecting them.
They also said that they have particular interest in the “Blue Economy” to uphold a model of development that respects the fundamental importance of sustainability that looks way beyond any perceived short term economic windfall.
“Members of Parliament and local Governors and other civic authorities have a particular duty to promote long term economic and social development and to be vigilant in guarding against any attempts by international businesses to exploit our common resource,” it said.
They applaud government, community and private initiatives to develop water ecotourism and sustainable sea fishing. They also reaffirm that they are not “anti-development”. They look to the common good and thus advocate for an integrated approach to development where local customary practices are respected and communities are assisted to grow employment opportunities.
On West Papua
A further focus has been the livelihood and cultural integrity of the people of West Papua.
They said clearly that they do not promote a view in regard to independence (of West Papua). “Indeed we believe that where this question becomes a single focus, care to uphold and strengthen local institutions of democracy may be overlooked,” they said.
The federation echoes the call for quality education in Papua, for fair and transparent access to jobs, training programmes and employment, for respect of land titles, and for clear boundaries between the role of defense and police forces and the role of commerce.
They claimed that the large majority of indigenous people of Papua seek peace and the various dialogue groups, advocating and witnessing to peaceful co-existence, are a source of hope for all.
They will hold the Plenary Assembly in Port Moresby in April 2017 to which is invited all the bishops of Oceania. And the theme then will be – ‘Care of our Common Home of Oceania: A sea of possibilities’.
The statement signed by two Archbishops and four Bishops. They Archbishops are: Archbishop Sir John Cardinal Ribat MSC (President), Archbishop of Port Moresby, PNG and Archbishop Michel Calvet SM, Archbishop of Noumea, New Caledonia. And the four Bishops are: Bishop Robert McGuckin (Deputy President) Bishop of Toowoomba, Australia; Bishop Colin Campbell, Bishop of Dunedin, New Zealand; Bishop Charles Drennan, Bishop of Palmerston North, New Zealand; and Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, Australia.(*)